Bournemouth 1 Newcastle 4 – Wednesday 1 July 6pm
Newcastle headed home after getting four goals and three points that did more damage to Bournemouth than the thousands of boozed-up day trippers that descended on its beaches over recent weekends.
While the latter scenario was entirely predictable, I’m not sure the win was.
The first half of the game reminded me of Newcastle’s last match, only this time it was our team with the possession, the confidence, the time and the talent.
It was the last thing I was expecting when I saw the team sheet; more so when I realised Longstaff was playing up top and Joelinton was left midfield. Add the fact that this was arguably Bournemouth’s most winnable fixture in their fight against relegation, and it was a potential banana skin for a team that had looked so poor three days earlier.
But Toon were dominant and composed and deservedly went for their socially-distant half time orange with a two-goal lead. Unfortunately, they went in without Longstaff, who limped off to be replaced by Almiron after playing like a natural forward.
The first goal came gift-wrapped for Gayle after five minutes, courtesy of some schoolboy defending from Lerma, but it was not an easy chance to convert. Had it been, he might have missed, given recent form. The second was a top-corner finish from Longstaff senior after a marvellous bit of skill and pull-back from St Maximin.
Bournemouth couldn’t have played as badly in the second half and they didn’t. They had an (obviously) offside goal disallowed and hit the woodwork but never looked like overturning Newcastle’s lead. A lovely third from Almiron after a nice bit of work by ASM finished the home team off. As he often does, Miggy took the ball across the opposition’s back line without the ball touching anything but his left foot, but instead of checking back, he hooked it over an unsuspecting keeper with his right peg.
That heralded the start of the recent fad for introducing the full complement of five subs and the game inevitably took on the air of a testimonial after that. However, Newcastle did manage to conjure a fourth goal, and it was another beauty, Shelvey and Carroll played a neat one-two into the path of second-half arrival Lazaro, who finished with aplomb.
There was still time for the miss of the season by Hayden after Lazaro hit the bar and for Carroll to sting the palms of Bournemouth’s goalie. Sadly, there was also time for an extra-time consolation for Bournemouth (Gosling, predictably), but the fat lady had been singing for some time before then.
There will be many Newcastle fans who think that we only won because Bournemouth were terrible. And they were. They did not look like a team that are ‘fighting for their lives’. But I am happy to give credit for a job well done.
When I saw Bentaleb and Krafth (neither of who have done much to impress me) were playing, I was wondering if Bruce knew what he was doing. With Manquillo out of position at left back (plus the Joe/Longstaff switcheroo), I was sure he didn’t. But it was the most one-sided game I can remember Newcastle being on the right end of this season. Every player knew what he was supposed to be doing, and did it well.
I’d also say that current team spirit seems high. I know there are some who begrudge Steve Bruce any praise at all, but his team seem to want to play for him.
Quite what this win proves, I don’t know. Probably very little.
Only the most pessimistic statistician thought Newcastle were in genuine peril going into lockdown. And seven points from three games since, suggest that – at the very least – our players kept fit and focused while they were stuck at home.
It does make me question why there was so little application against City in the Cup. I don’t think anyone would have complained if we’d chucked the kitchen sink at the quarter final and been under par for this evening.
But it is churlish to be negative after a 4-1 away win. So I’ll be positive.
We’ve secured Premiership safety. We could well finish the season with our best points total since we somehow qualified for Europe under Alan Pardew. We could have new, wealthy, ambitious owners who will build the club up rather than sell its assets. And Newcastle fans may start looking up instead of down.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Bournemouth 1 Newcastle 4 – Wednesday 1 July 6pm
Gayle 5 Sean Longstaff 30, Almiron 57, Lazaro 77
Possession was Bournemouth 55% Newcastle 45%
Total shots were Bournemouth 12 Newcastle 12
Shots on target were Bournemouth 1 Newcastle 7
Corners were Bournemouth 6 Newcastle 3
Referee: Kevin Friend
Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Manquillo (Yedlin 73), Shelvey, Bentaleb, Sean Longstaff (Almiron 33), Joelinton (Hayden 72), Gayle (Carroll 62), Saint-Maximin (Lazaro 62)
Darlow, Schar, Ritchie, Rose
(Bournemouth 1 Newcastle 4 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players – Read HERE)
(Bournemouth 1 Newcastle 4 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Wednesday’s rout – Read HERE)
(Eddie Howe says Bournemouth brought it on themselves after Newcastle hand out a hammering – Read HERE)
(Bournemouth 1 Newcastle 4 – Watch official match highlights HERE including all 5 goals)